I had to go to the dentist this morning. IT HURT. A LOT. Enough to push me over into borderline insanity. So, I went to ONE of my happy places. A slightly psychotic happy place, but a happy place none-the-less.
I was an assassin. For real. I am not making this up. I actually ran around and killed people.
Granted it was at a gaming convention and the people didn't actually die for real but it was fun. Let me tell you how it came about that I - who had never even heard of LARP'ing ending up engaging in it full force.
My husband is a gamer. Always has been always will be. He loves Dungeons and Dragons, Gurps, and several other games that involve that type of thing. I had not had previous experience with them except to be taken as a guest to a game once or twice at which I had sat around saying "What do I do now?" and someone would reply "Roll the dice". I would roll the dice not really grasping it and they would shout out a number and something might die or not but I just didn't "get it". SO, in the spirit of making me understand why he loves games so much he took me to a convention called Origins in Columbus, Ohio.
Now I had been to this convention with him once before but we had only gone for a day and with friends. It was pretty cool the one time we had gone before - there were all kinds of games besides the role playing ones. Dice games, board games, card games. Interesting costumes, corsets, makeup, people battling each other with fake swords at the back AND there were seminars. We actually sat in on a seminar called "What's your plan Z?" which was a hilariously fun lecture on how to survive a zombie attack. My friend L. and I cracked up all through it - what a fun time right? BUT unfortunately we got dirty looks as THEY WERE NOT JOKING!!! OMG! TOO FUNNY - it just made us laugh harder. I had a good time though - how could you not when you were surrounded by so much creativity?
SO, the following year when my husband wanted us to send the kids to the grandparents and spend the ENTIRE 5 days at the convention I thought SURE there is plenty to take pictures of, and it will give me tons of great stuff to write about. Not to mention all the new board and card games that come out that people demo. I am sure that I would find plenty to do or at the very least I would be amused.
Now, when we arrive he wants to introduce me to the world of LARP'ing. "What the hell is that?" I asked. "It doesn't even sound normal."
Apparently LARP'ing is Live Action Role Playing. So - I took the program from him to see what games were being offered. I WAS SURPRISED! They offered all sorts of games from people dressing up and doing Cthulu themed games, to dungeons and dragons games. Among the list I was quickly able to see that they also had a zombies vs. humans option that looked promising and then I saw it. The Assassins Live game. It called out to me above all others.
"What is this M.?" I asked him. He didn't know - he had never played it before. It sounded fun. You would be given a target to stalk and "kill" amidst the other convention goers while avoiding being killed yourself. Hmm. Sounded interesting. Considering there was going to be several thousand people at the convention I wondered how this one was going to play out. SO I chose it. Plus if I was going to play a game to bond with my husband I wanted to pretend to be a ninja! Or a spy! Or a ninja spy killer! Either way I was IN!
So we went to the meeting room in the basement of the convention hall at the assigned time and place. There were several people milling about sitting at tables playing cards talking about the game the previous year where a guy had been photographed with long hair and a beard then shaved his head and face making it hard to find him. Snatches of conversation filtered in then the presentation began.
The guys told us about the ways we would be allowed to kill each other. We were given Rubber snakes, spiders, and scorpions to slip into bags or onto chairs. Red yarn to be laid as trip wires for people to step over. Rubber daggers to slip into pockets for bonus points. Golden star stickers to put on food wrappers to be considered poison. Cameras could be used to get "head shots" on people. Then my favorite method of all - the "shiv". The shiv was a baby sock full of talc powder. You sneak up on someone and stab them with it leaving the tell-tale white mark on their clothes. Each method of "murder" was assigned different point values according to their difficulty. He let us each choose which weapons we wanted to carry with us and he gave us each five kill slips to carry with us. When someone killed us we had to sign our name to it and write how they killed us and give it to them to bring downstairs. IF we got killed we lost points if we turned in kills we gained points. We could always get more slips if we ran out and there would be a finale scenario we had to run through at the end.
He also explained the hallway outside the door would be a safe zone - it is not sporting to kill people outside the doors as they came and went. You can kill anyone at anytime but your target is worth more points than just any kill. They also told us that if anyone sees the kill happen it does not count. It has to be stealthy and sneaky. Then they took our photos and had us all wait outside the room as they called us back in one by one and gave us a "dossier" of who our kill was supposed to be and sent us on our way!!
HOW EXCITING!! The players involved a diverse group of people too. Teenagers, a dad and his young kid, college girls, a couple of frat boys, older ex military guys, me (an ex soccer mom), a girl who was a foreign exchange student from germany... the list goes on. It was neat. More people kept signing up over the weekend too.
My dossier showed my first kill was one of the teenagers. So first thing I wanted to do was run up to our hotel room and change my look. THANK GOODNESS I am a girl and overpack for everything. I had 3 suitcases and a million different outfits with me. Over the course of the weekend I think I changed outfits 18 different times. I changed hair and makeup too.
I got 9 or 10 kills. One of my favorite kills was Jason. We had called a temporary truce to play Zombie Dice together. WE sat at the same table and played together for an HOUR at least. Then I ran upstairs and changed my look from normal ex-soccer mom to goth chic. I came back downstairs, and walked past him. THEN when I knew he didn't recognize me I walked up and asked him about the game he was watching while I draped my arm around him, shiv'd him in the back and asked for my kill sheet. :)
Bobek - one of the college guys playing was hilarious. He belly crawled across a hallway then down the length of one of the cloth covered registration tables to be able to stick his arm out and shiv my husband. He would also take off running down the hallway to lay tripwires in doorways to catch people up in. Josh, and Billy and lots of the others playing were so much fun. I hope to see them next year! Jeff was a lot of fun too - he ended up winning Master Assassin (free pass to the entire convention for the following year) and he got in quite a few funny kills.
I changed into one of my husband's oversize white shirts that looks like a lab coat for us to play games in the Looney Lab. It took bravery to play games there. One of the games there is called "Are You A Werewolf" and it is an awesome fun game but it involves closing your eyes for long periods of time. Several of the assassins love this game. It was an adrenaline high like we were testing each other - or showing how brave we were by playing. Some of us made truces ahead of time but there were several others playing who could have found us and had an easy kill at any time. By wearing the lab coat I blended in and looked like I worked in the lab. So much so that when one of the people playing came up to my husband (who at 6'2, built like a linebacker with spiked black hair is quite easy to spot) and said, "Hey where's your wife I have been looking..." I had shiv'd him before he could finish his sentence. Apparently I was so good at disguising myself it took two days of the convention before someone got a kill in on me!
The people in the downstairs headquarters CRACKED UP everytime I turned in a kill at all my costume changes. The goth, the school teacher, the school girl, the normal outfit, the librarian, the party girl, the emo.. just all the different looks I came up with. PLUS I even had different friends I walked around with. My friend A. came and hung out with me as did my friends L. and T. So I wasn't with my hubby the whole time.
We also still got to walk around and demo some new games. One of my favorites this past year was NAY JAY - which is a game of speed and skill! You have to move really fast to get rid of all your cards before anyone else does but you also want to play the most cards. It is fun. The women running the demo were so nice. They watched my back for me the whole time so if anyone did try to kill me it wouldn't count because they would be witness. :)
The final challenge was awesome. They set up a whole gauntlet in the basement and it was like being inside a video game. They took us back 2 at a time. My partner was Bobek. They put him in one room on the other side and me in a room where I was isolated and didn't know what was going on. They gave us one of each weapon and told us we could only use each one once. We could also use any weapon we stole off the guards.
Then they yelled "BEGIN". I noticed right away there was a guard right outside the room I was in and he was walking back and forth way to fast for me to get past him so I thought for a minute about what to do. So, I laid a tripwire in the doorway and made a small noise. He came in to investigate and fell "dead" from the tripwire. I stole his sword. YES rubber swords - we got to "beat" people. (They told us to lightly tap people 3 times to kill) they also said if we needed to move a body just take their hand and lead them where we wanted them to go).
So I took his hand and dragged him out of the doorway. I saw he had a nerf gun but I didn't really know how to use them that well so I left the gun behind (which I regretted later) and I exited the room. I ran down the hall cautiously and peered around the corner. I saw a guard sleeping by another room. I ran up and quickly tapped him three times he fell dead I propped him so it looked like he was still sleeping. I peered into the room he was guarding and there was the final target BUT WTF? The room had red yarn strung across it back and forth from floor to ceiling. I was not a contortionist. Apparently if I had brought the nerf gun I could have shot the final target through the "lasers". I found out later my partner had been killed eliminating the other guards that had been roaming the halls. At that point another guard came out of the room and starting yelling alarm and I was caught - my game was over. I ended up placing 7th out of 33. Pretty good for someone who had never done it before! HA! (I think I scared my husband!)
It was fun though!! I would do it again in a heartbeat. I guess a lot of people didn't even make it out of the first room. One of the people (we got to watch after our turn) tried to drag the sleeping guard into the room full of guards next door.
The paranoia of whether or not I was going to be killed certainly made the convention more interesting. The killing made the convention more fun!! Also walking among the thousands of people there giggling to myself because I was participating in the convention on a whole other level that some of them probably didn't even know was there was exciting!!
It was definitely a good time.
SO if you go to Origins (every June in Columbus, Ohio) I recommend the Assassins Live LARPing game - it is hilarious and fun! I cannot wait to go back this year and I am gonna play again. My hubby is right. Gaming does have its appeal. I think I am hooked now. Who knew I could enjoy being psychotic?!? What does that say about me?
Oh well I have come to terms with my weirdness. Once a year I get to spend a week running around killing people - how's that for stress relief?